Valakhilyas: Were they descendants of ‘Hobbits’ of Indonesia? - III
by Jayasree Saranathan on 16 Jan 2019 9 Comments

Hobbits and Valakhilyas

The olden location of Valakhilyas occurring in Salmali Dwipa, they make better candidates to have had a genetic connection with the short Hobbits. Science says that Hobbits, though shorter in stature were in no way inferior to homo sapiens in intellect. Falk et al observed that the area of the brain associated with higher cognition (Brodmann area 10) in Hobbits is of the same size as in humans even though the overall brain size is small. This means the Hobbits were as intelligent as human beings and were capable of all executive functions like humans.


Hobbits were living in the cave of Flores, Indonesia, until the 16th century as per the report of the Portuguese in 1511 CE. This is confirmed by an article in Science Daily, “There are lots of local folk tales in Flores about these people, which are consistent and incredibly detailed. The stories suggest there may be more than a grain of truth to the idea that they were still living on Flores up until the Dutch arrived in the 1500s”.


For generations, the Nagekeo tribes living near the Flores cave have told about Hobbits as small people, but very much like humans, walking erect and body covered with hair. They were not known to have used fire, but gobbled up any food whole and raw. On rare occasions, they were invited by the villagers and given food. But they were found to eat indiscriminately anything they found around, that they had to be stopped from gulping sharp instruments. This feature has a striking resemblance to Atri as Atri means ‘devourer’. That is the best word to describe the eating habit of Hobbits, which earned them a name Ebu Gogo by the surrounding villagers, which means “Grandmother who eats everything”.


Whatever they ate was not cooked with fire but they seemed to have survived well with whatever they ate raw. Was this taken to mean that the sunrays entering their body provided the heat to soften the food within their body? One cannot help thinking like this, for the very fact that Valakhilyas were repeatedly described in Indic texts as those subsisting on sun rays. 


The 20th century text titled ‘Gaudiya-Kanthahara’ gives the meaning of the name Valakhilya somewhat closer to the habit of devouring food. It says that ‘Valakhilya is one who discards the stock of food he has with him (purva ancita anna tyagah) the moment he gets a fresh stock of food (nave pane labdhya)’. This meaning could not have been written without a source text describing so. This meaning looks suitable to Hobbits who never used fire and therefore never devised cooking methods and therefore never indulged in saving anything for the next meal. By not having used fire and cooking methods, the Hobbits must have lived on whatever they got new while discarding what they already they had.


The comparison of Valakhilyas with Hobbits does not end here. An interpretation of Valakhilyas appears in Taittriya Aranyaka (I-23) in the context of the creation of the world by Prajapati. It says that Valakhilyas were the ‘hair’ of Prajapati. ‘Vala’ means hair and Khila refers to appendage. Valakhilya could just be a reference to their hairy appearance. It must be noted that Hobbits too were hairy-bodied. Another interpretation could be that hair can be completely discarded. By referring to them as the hair of Prajapati, did the rishis mean that Valakhilyas would cease to exist sometime? Were they already extinct during the time of Vyasa whose references to them were only quotational and not contemporaneous? Whatever be the original import, one cannot deny the fact that some beings by name Valakhilyas had existed in the past and moved to Himavat.


Valakhilyas in Himavat


After the incident involving Garuda, the Valakhilyas had moved to Himavat (MB:13-10). If they were part of Hobbits, it can be presumed that a section of them living within the territory of Garuda had moved to Himavat for doing peaceful penance. Others outside the territory of predator Garuda had continued their life in Indonesia. Yet another reference from Mahabharata (3-141) says that Valakhilyas lived near Alakananda.  The book ‘Wandering Himalayas’ published by Chinmaya Trust refers to ‘Valakhilya’ mountain to the south of Uttarkashi. Nachiketa Tal is located near this mountain. Why should a mountain get this name unless this was connected with (occupied by) Valakhilyas in the past?


Reiterating the view that Valakhilyas did reside in that part of the Himalayas, there is a description of ‘Khilyayana tirtha’ in the third chapter of Bhr?gisa Samhita.  It says that rishis by name Valakhilyas were doing penance by standing on their toe with a posture of ‘Urdhva retas’. When Vi??u appeared, they ‘jumped down’ and offered their obeisance.


Though not explicit, the minimal description of the posture of penance shows that they were hanging down from the branch of a tree with the toe of one leg supporting their posture. A yogic posture known as Valakhilyasana can be re-positioned to a hanging position from a tree with a toe pressing the ground. (The posture Valakhilyasana replicates a possibility of hanging upside-down from a tree).


Valakhilyas’ devotion for Vi??u


Valakhilyas were associated with the worship of Vi??u in Rig Vedic hymn, Bhr?gisa samhita and Valmiki Ramayana. Bhr?gisa samhita says Vi??u appeared before Valakhilyas and granted boons. That location is known as Narayana tirthas and the place of penance is called Valakhilya Grama. In Sugriva’s narration of the route to Udaya parvata (Mountain of sunrise), Sun is personified as Trivikrama (Vi??u) making the first step at Udaya parvata and the second step on top of Meru in Jambhu Dwipa (VR: 4-40-58). Valakhilyas were to be seen at the region of sunrise shining with the luminosity of the Sun. They worshiped Vi??u in the form of the sun.


In the narration of Garuda’s story in Mahabharata, Vi??u was supposed to have met Garuda in the sky during his global trot. This could once again refer to the trot of the Sun. From this it is deduced that personification of Sun as Vi??u had existed before the identification of Garuda. For all their obsession to be present at the region of first sunrise and drink the sunrays as much as possible, can the Valakhilyas be credited with having ‘discovered’ the Vedic truth of Vi??u as Sun making three steps? Looks plausible as we come across a reference to Vi??u’s three steps in the fourth Valakhilya hymn of the Rig Veda.  It says: yasmai vi??ustri?i pada vicakrama (“He to whom Vi??u came striding his three wide steps”).


Isn’t this proof enough that a people by name Valakhilyas who were fond of watching the Sun rise from the eastern most part of the globe beyond which the world is impassable (to quote Sugriva) were the same ones who had written the quoted Rig Vedic verse. Their origins go very much back in time, even before Rama’s birth and in a location which was outside India. Every reference to ‘Garutman’ in Rig Veda must have been uttered after the incident involving Garuda and Valakhilyas. The verse of Dirghatamas (RV:1-164) equating Garutman (Garuda) with the Supreme Being has its origins in the glorification of Garuda by Valakhilyas at a location in Indonesia.


The antiquity of the existence of Valakhilyas even before many hymns of Rig Veda were composed goes to show that the Valakhilya hymns were not later additions, but olden hymns which were added as an after-thought. Some of the verses of Valakhilyas appearing in other Vedas disprove them to be of later origin. Valakhilya hymns must have existed before Vyasa’s times when Vedas were classified into four.


The Garuda angle reveals some un-thought-of events. It was much after the experience of the Valakhilyas with Garuda, the bird had been caught and trained as a carrier. Krishna travelling on this bird does not seem to be fictional when we think about this massive bird capable of carrying any heavy weight. Finally, Garuda and Valakhilyas appearing in the same episode is strong proof of where the early Vedic sages emerged from. Certainly Valakhilyas and Atri-s did not come from West Asia or central Europe. The glorification of Vi??u, Trivikrama, the sun and Garuda / Garutman emerged from regions far-east of India and not in North West India or further North West.


A long route found in the narration of Sugriva shows it was possible to walk, hop and swim across the long stretch starting from Ganga or Sarayu or Vanga or Himavat to Yava Dwipa and winding through Salmali Dwipa up till Fiji Islands (Udaya Parvata) and even New Zealand. This entire stretch has been highly supportive of life-thriving conditions and therefore lasting growth of human population and civilisation and movement of people within this route. This was also the path of the global trot of Vi??u from his first to the second step. The highest point of this step did not go beyond or north of Jambhu Dwipa. This is the single most proof of the unlikelihood of the beginnings of Vedic culture having sprung from anywhere other than the route that passes through South East Asia and South Asia just south of the Himalayas.



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